London Private Hire industry questions Transport for London’s fitness to regulate
• Populus poll shows 80% of people are not aware that some cars booked through new smartphone apps are not licensed and compliant with the law and TfL regulations
• LPHCA demands TfL enforce app-based cab companies’ compliance with legislation and regulations
• Offshore companies endanger London public by breaching essential safety requirements
14th April 2014, London UK: The Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) – the trade body which represents the interests of licensed Private Hire operators – has lost confidence in the ability of TfL to safeguard public safety as regulator of the London taxi and Private Hire car market. At a recent meeting, the LPHCA’s membership voted a motion of no confidence for TfL to continue as the regulator of the London cab industry.
The LPHCA is concerned about those cab app providers which are operating illegally in the capital - putting London’s world-class safety record at risk. The body is questioning TfL’s fitness to remain the regulator after it has done little to address the activities of some offshore technology companies which provide cab services via apps.
A recent Populus poll carried out by the LPHCA also reveals that Londoners do not understand that some cars booked through new smartphone apps are not fully compliant with TfL regulations. Of the 1,014 people polled by Populus:
• 89% of people said it is very/fairly important that newer app-based cab companies should be required to use TfL-licensed operating centres
• 80% of people weren’t aware that some cars booked through new smartphone apps are not fully-licensed and compliant with TfL regulations
LPHCA conducted the poll to raise awareness of the concerns passengers have, in particular when using minicabs and taxis in London, and to gauge an understanding of these individuals’ perceptions of TfL’s responsibilities as the regulator.
Private Hire companies (minicabs, chauffeur and executive cars) in London are regulated by TfL under the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998. “The Private Hire Vehicles Act ensures the safety of the travelling public. There is deep-rooted concern and evidence, that new app-based operators are not playing by the rules”, said Steve Wright MBE, chair, LPHCA. “TfL appears to be changing its approach to suit offshore app companies rather than putting the public’s safety first,” he explained. The poll highlighted strong public concern that app companies that have been subject to regulatory action elsewhere should be subject to stringent scrutiny in the UK:
• 70% of people are a lot or a little less likely to use the services of a smartphone app operator that’s been the subject of a complete ban on operation somewhere in the world
• 87% of people agree that TfL should investigate all smartphone app operators to assess their compliance with UK regulations
“Some of these app providers are being allowed to operate in London when they have already been convicted of serious licensing offences in other cities around the world and in some cases, we have even seen evidence of them using drivers without insurance,” explained Wright. “We want to see TfL fulfil its legal obligations to enforce the law effectively, fairly and consistently and so does the travelling public.”
“There have been considerable problems worldwide with these new app providers - including a passenger alleging she had been raped by a driver booked via an app and the death of a young girl on a street crossing by a driver engaged by an ‘app-based’ company,” said Wright.
And Now It's Gone International